With Chicago's oyster obsession at high tide, two old pros are restaking their claim on the clam: Coming this fall from the Shaw's team is the aptly named Oyster on Halsted (1962 N. Halsted St., Lincoln Park, no phone yet), an 80-seat shrine to all things shelled.
Melman, Shaw's partner Bill Nevruz, and chef Peter Balodimas will turn the former Coppervine space into three concepts: Oyster on Halsted on the main floor, the cocktail-focused Low Tide Lounge in the basement, and a third spot TBD on the second floor. Oyster and Low Tide will both open in November; the third is coming in early 2016.
Pressed on opening an oyster bar in Chicago's late sea of imitators, Nevruz doubles down on Shaw's good name: "Oysters have been our good idea for about 30 years. We are not here to chase trends."
As for Oyster's actual differences from Shaw's, they do exist, at least peripherally. The restaurant's east-coast focus means a tinnier interior with more tables than booths, and the food will don an Atlantic flair where possible (e.g. New England style clam chowder and both New England- and Connecticut-style lobster rolls). Balodimas also plans to throw a few curveballs on the menu, including something called a "stuffy"—a stuffed clam baked with chorizo, from what we glean.
There will be fish, of course—Balodimas is particularly geeked on a fried Thai-chili snapper—and an oyster program as airtight as Shaw's (served three days out of the water, magic-glued to ice, and priced equally so as to discourage overanalysis paralysis).